It's a shame that the Arizona Coyotes were not on a national broadcast when they were in the thick of a playoff push. But after the Trade Deadline, there may not be a better contest to showcase on NBC Sports.
After dealing top six forward Mikkel Boedker, the Arizona Coyotes will play him for the first time as they take on the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center tonight in Denver.
Matchup at a Glance
|Arizona Coyotes||Colorado Avalanche|
|Points||62 (5th Pacific)||70 (6th Central)|
|Goals For||2.66 (13th)||2.64 (T-14th)|
|Goals Against||3.12 (T-29th)||2.90 (24th)|
|Power Play||18.4% (T-16th)||19.2% (T-12th)|
|Penalty Kill||77.7% (T-25th)||81.1% (T-14th)|
|5v5 Corsi For||47.0% (28th)||44.0% (30th)|
|PDO||100.3 (T-11th)||100.2 (T-13th)|
View from Arizona
The Coyotes' seven game losing streak mercifully came to an end with their 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night in Glendale. The win probably came too late to salvage Arizona's playoff hopes, but it was a needed shot in the arm for a team that has taken a beating over the past couple of weeks.
Arizona got the win despite the one game suspension of Max Domi, who earned the suspension after a fight with Anaheim's Ryan Garbutt on Thursday night in the last five minutes of the third period. Domi is undoubtedly going to be chomping at the bit to be a difference maker in tonight's game.
Saturday's win was also likely a confidence booster for Louis Domingue, who had to be frustrated after taking several losses despite decent play on the Eastern Conference road trip. After getting shellacked in Pittsburgh, Domingue responded in his next start with an excellent performance, stopping 32 of 33 shots against the Panthers for a very good .970 save percentage.
View from Colorado
For more on the Colorado Avalanche, check out Mile High Hockey
Why did the Colorado Avalanche acquire Mikkel Boedker? They already have a highly talented core of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Matt Duchene, and their power play is decent, if not elite. Boedker scores most of his points on the power play, and his possession numbers have always been subpar; this year Boedker had a CF Percentage of 46.6, a full -1.2 percentage points relative to the rest of his team, which was already in the bottom five of possession metrics.
Head coach Patrick Roy's disdain for advanced statistics is legendary at this point, so in one sense it might not be terribly surprising that Boedker went to Colorado. But even from an eye-test standpoint, it's difficult to see what makes Boedker the piece that puts the Avs over the top in an already stacked Central Division.
Granted, all Colorado gave up to get him was a decent sized defensive prospect and an injured forward prospect (which Arizona can turn into a compensatory second round pick), so it's not like they sold the farm to get Boedker. And even if a Stanley Cup is a more distant possibility, Boedker should keep the Avalanche in the middle of the Wild Card hunt, which as of this writing they are only two points away from.
Keys to the Game
1. Copy-Paste: Whatever worked against Florida, do it again. They were opportunistic, they were relentless, and they got into the dirty areas of the offensive zone. They can win a lot of games playing that way.
2. Fewer Sequential Penalty Kills: Arizona was shorthanded five times against Florida, but more than that, they took the first three penalties of the game. That's an easy way to keep your best players out of the game and your forecheck off balance.
3. Get to the Goalie: Semyon Varlamov got pulled in his last start all the way back on March 1st. Calvin Pickard is just 23. That's a lot of pressure on both in the middle of a playoff race. The Coyotes can make their lives miserable by getting to whomever is in net early.
Players to Watch
Alex Tanguay scored two goals and recorded an assist in his first game as a Coyote. Now he gets to play against his former team. Can he follow it up?
With four assists in his last five games, Tyson Barrie continues to be a welcome source of offense on Colorado's blueline.
Joe Vitale and Anders Lindback are done for the season, while Mike Smith is continuing to rehab a core muscle injury.
Jesse Winchester, Brad Stuart, and Ben Street are on injured reserve for an indefinite period of time. Colorado's other Trade Deadline acquisition - Eric Gelinas - is also considered questionable for tonight's game.
Tonight's game begins at 7 PM Arizona time. You can watch the game on NBC Sports Network or listen on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.